The Southern Nationals Bonus Series kicked off its 2017 season on Saturday night with a $4,000-to-win feature race at Boyd’s Speedway. Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series regular Tim McCreadie pulled his car into victory lane at the end of the night to collect the winner’s trophy and the big check.
The Watertown, NY driver would have never even been entered into this race had it not been for the two LOLMDS events slated for this weekend had not been postponed due to adverse weather conditions. As a result, McCreadie opted to pay a visit to the same Ringgold, GA facility at which he will race with his regular series on March 31st.
Brandon Overton, who won the $10,000 Gobbler here last fall, began the night by leading the way in Group A qualifying and overall as he turned a lap of 13.138 seconds around the third-mile clay oval. He was followed by McCreadie who was also locked into the feature by virtue of his efforts in time-trials.
Mike Marlar proved to be fastest in Group B qualifying as he toured the track in 13.304 seconds to beat out Donald McIntosh. Those two drivers were locked into the feature from that group.
Boyd’s Speedway co-owner Dale McDowell won the first heat race of the night by beating Jason Hiett, Ricky Weiss and Michael Page to the checkered flag.
Billy Ogle, Jr. was victorious in the second heat over Riley Hickman, Shanon Buckingham and Jamie Oliver.
Overton went to the lead early on at the start of the 40-lap feature followed closely by Marlar, McCreadie, McIntosh and Ogle. However, McDowell was not content to remain outside the top-5 as he went to work on Ogle for the fifth position during the race’s second circuit. At the same time, McIntosh peeked underneath McCreadie’s car in an attempt to take third.
Overton looked to be dominant as he pulled away by the length of a straightaway by lap 4. But slower traffic would prove to be an equalizer as the No. 116 found its progress slowed by those running at the tail of the field by lap 6. That, in turn, allowed Marlar and McCreadie to close the distance between themselves and the leader quickly.
McCreadie positioned himself to challenge for the top spot when he passed by Marlar for second on lap 10.
A lap 11 caution for the stalled car of Forrest Gifford provided the leaders with a brief reprieve from the slower traffic they had been battling. But it also provided an opportunity for those who could get the jump on the restart with a chance to move up the leader board.
Both McIntosh and McDowell attempted to do just that as they went to work on Marlar as the trio raced just behind the lead duo of Overton an McCreadie.
The race’s most pivotal moment occurred on lap 14 when the lead car of Overton slowed on the track to bring out the second of what would eventually be three cautions. Overton’s car appeared to have suffered suspension damage in the right front corner as the home state driver retired what looked to be the dominant machine from the event.
On the ensuing restart, it was McDowell who would gain the advantage as he moved by both McIntosh and Marlar to grab second place and set off in pursuit of McCreadie. Instead, the No. 17m ride would engage in a hotly contested fight for the runner-up position with No. 157 of Marlar.
Marlar seized second on lap 18 only to give it back to McDowell on lap 34 after an intense battle.
But over the final 23 caution-free circuits, no one was able to challenge McCreadie as he drove his No. 39 car to the finish ahead of the pack.
Feature Finish: 1. Tim McCreadie, 2. Dale McDowell, 3. Mike Marlar, 4. Jason Hiett, 5. Donald McIntosh, 6. Michael Page, 7. David Payne, 8. Shanon Buckingham, 9. Riley Hickman, 10. Jason Welshan, 11. Jamie Oliver, 12. Robby Moses, 13. Shane Tankersley, 14. Jimmy Brown, 15. Caleb Ashby, 16. Billy Ogle Jr., 17. Joey Standridge, 18. Brandon Overton, 19. Craig Greer, 20. Forrest Gifford, 21. Ricky Weiss, 22. Todd Morrow